Spring 2018

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Facial Exercises Fight Appearance of Aging

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See the Happy Face Yoga exercises.

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Researchers found that a group of middle-aged women looked about three years younger after they followed a 20-week facial exercise program.

Images of facial exercises

Facial exercises may reduce some signs of aging, according to a new study from dermatologists at the Feinberg School of Medicine. Researchers found that a group of middle-aged women looked about three years younger after they followed a 20-week facial exercise program. This is the first scientific study to test the premise of facial exercise improving appearance.

Murad Alam, vice chair and professor of dermatology, worked with Gary Sikorski of Happy Face Yoga, who trained the study participants in his 30-minute facial exercise routine. Participants — a group of women 40 to 65 years old —learned and performed 32 distinct exercises, each one for about a minute. They were instructed to repeat the exercises at first every day and then every other day for five months. 

Over the course of the 20 weeks, the 16 participants who remained in the study were enthusiastic about their results, finding improvements in almost all of their facial features. An independent panel of dermatologists backed up their personal evaluations, rating their “after” photographs as, on average, three years younger than their “before” photographs.

“Now there is some evidence that facial exercises may improve facial appearance and reduce some visible signs of aging,” says Alam. “The exercises enlarge and strengthen the facial muscles, so the face becomes firmer and more toned and shaped like a younger face.”

Here are a few of the Happy Face Yoga exercises:

The Cheek Lifter: Open your mouth to form an “O,” and fold your upper lip over your teeth. Smile to lift cheek muscles up, then put your fingers on the top part of the cheek before releasing the cheek muscles to lower them. Lift the cheeks back up, and repeat by lowering and lifting 10 times.

Happy Cheeks Sculpting: Smile without showing your teeth. Purse your lips together, and then smile — forcing the cheek muscles up. Place your fingers on the corners of the mouth and slide them up to the top of the cheeks, holding for 20 seconds.

The Eyebrow Lifter: Press three fingertips under each eyebrow to force your eyes open. Smile while trying to push your eyebrows down against your fingers. Close your eyes and roll your eyeballs up to the top of your head, holding for 20 seconds.